THE STRESSED MOTHER OF THREE LUCY DENYER, 37
I like to think I have a pretty healthy diet. But with three small children, a busy job and a multitude of other activities, often the healthy choice goes out of the window in favour of a quick fix. I’d love to find out how to make easy tweaks to boost my energy levels and keep my IBS from flaring up so regularly.
8am: hot water with cider vinegar; muesli with oat milk Mid-morning: oatcakes and a flat white 2pm-3pm: ashtanga yoga 3.30pm: two roast chicken thighs with hummus, parsley salad, avocado and lettuce salad 5pm: two cups of tea with semi-skimmed milk; one square of dark chocolate with nuts 7pm: small glass of prosecco and handful of ready salted crisps 8pm: cinnamon and raisin bagel with butter
8am: hot water with cider vinegar 9.30am: full-fat latte and a banana 12.45pm: roasted squash, lentil, ricotta and mushroom salad with basil oil dressing 3pm: tea with skimmed milk, three squares of dark chocolate with pistachios. Two pretzels. 5pm: four squares of dark chocolate with nuts 8.30pm: curry, while out with friends (small portions of roti, rice, okra fries, chicken curry, saag paneer); 650ml Kingfisher beer and a tequila cocktail
10pm: cup of herbal tea Cycled to and from work (five miles each way)
8am: hot water with cider vinegar; Greek yogurt with handful of muesli and a handful of blueberries 11.30am: almond latte; peanut butter sandwich on sourdough bread 2pm: chicken fajita with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, cheese and lettuce, plus a handful tortilla chips. Toffee fudge yogurt and a square of milk chocolate 6pm: tea with semiskimmed milk; apple 8pm: pan-fried salmon fillet with brown rice, avocado, sour cream, tahini sauce, radicchio; a glass of red wine; three Ferrero Rocher chocolates 10pm: cup of herbal tea Bike ride with the kids, around six miles
8am: hot water with cider vinegar; porridge with oat milk, handful of blueberries, one teaspoon of coconut and almond butter, seeds 11am: latte 1pm: roast chicken thigh with handful of roast potatoes, roast carrots and roast onion, small portion of steamed green beans and peas; home-made rice pudding; one Ferrero Rocher; glass of red wine 3pm: tea (semi-skimmed milk); two squares of dark chocolate with nuts 8pm: bowl of vegetable soup; half a chicken sandwich, half a cheese sandwich on wholegrain bread; a small glass of red wine, small bowl of leftover rice pudding, two Ferrero Rochers.
10pm: cup of herbal tea
I’m impressed by Lucy’s diary: she is pretty proactive about her health. Lucy is a classic case for me of when the diet is good enough: focusing on five or 10 per cent improvement with her diet is unlikely to yield a five or 10 per cent improvement in her health. Instead, she needs to focus elsewhere.
IBS is a disorder of the gut-brain access, which means stress is a major part of it. When you’re tired or run down, it flares up; that in itself can be draining. My tip is to recognise she’s got three young kids and works long hours and be kind to herself. Look to lock in moments of calm through the day; 10 minutes at lunchtime when she goes for a walk.
Focusing on one of the other pillars of good health, which for her I would suggest is stress, would give her rewards more quickly. She’ll sleep better, have more energy and feel calmer.
Lucy has a really balanced diet rich in healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates. To further support her gut bacteria, she could try including fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi or kefir.
Lucy also has irritable bowel syndrome, which she said is triggered during times of stress. Although food does not cause IBS, it can trigger symptoms of IBS. Dietary triggers vary from person to person, so a food diary can be helpful to see if symptoms coincide with eating particular foods. The main culprits tend to be alcohol, fizzy drinks, caffeine, spicy or fried food, and in a small amount of cases, dairy.
She may want to consider reducing her caffeine intake to see if it improves her gut symptoms. As stress is a trigger, it’s great that she practices yoga to combat this.